Is it as it was?
First, Peggy Noonan reported in the wall Street Journal that Mel Gibson had screened his embattled film The Passion of the Christ for the Pope, who supposedly liked the film -- which has raised all kinds of controversy for being potentially anti-Semitic -- and said of the depiction of the Crucifixion: "It is as it was." Yesterday Frank Rich questioned this holy endorsement: "... the marketing of this film remains a masterpiece of ugliness typical of our cultural moment, when hucksters wield holier-than-thou piety as a club for their own profit." The Pope now appears to be backing off -- a little, anyway:
One prominent Roman Catholic official close to the Vatican said today, "I have reason to believe -- and I think -- that the pope probably said it."
"But I think there's some bad feeling at the Vatican that the comment was used the way it was," the official added. "It's all a little soap-operatic."